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Winter in Massachusetts almost always includes periods of extreme cold weather. Exposure to cold can cause frostbite or hypothermia and has the potential to become life-threatening. Although anyone can suffer from cold-related health issues, some people are at greater risk than others, such as:
Those who are sick; and
Those without adequate shelter
To reduce the risks of extreme cold conditions, take the proper safety precautions to protect yourself and your family.
The National Weather Service issues wind chill advisories and warnings to alert the public of potential extreme temperatures. Learn more about the Wind Chill Index.
Wind chill index between -15°F and -24°F for at least three hours.
Wind chill index below -25°F for at least three hours.
See Additional Resources below for more detail on each of these items.
Continue to check the media for emergency information.
Follow instructions from public safety officials.
Reduce outdoor activities for the whole family, including pets.
Dress in several layers of loose-fitting, lightweight clothing instead of a single heavy layer. Outer garments should be tightly woven and water repellent. Wear a hat, mittens (not gloves), and sturdy waterproof boots to protect your arms, legs, hands and feet. Cover your mouth with a scarf to protect your lungs.
Follow recommended safety precautions when using space heaters, a fireplace, or a woodstove to heat your home. Keep a fire extinguisher handy.
Make sure emergency generators or secondary heating systems are well ventilated.
If you lose heating, move into a single room. At night, cover windows and external doors with extra blankets or sheets.
Wrap pipes in insulation or layers of newspapers covered in plastic to prevent them from freezing. Let a trickle of warm water run from a faucet to keep water moving through your pipes.
If your pipes freeze, open all faucets all the way, remove any insulation, and heat the frozen pipe with a hair dryer or wrap with towels soaked in hot water. Never use an open flame to thaw pipes.
Check with your local authorities or Call 2-1-1 to find warming centers or shelters near you.
In the event of a power outage, you may need to take extra precautions or go to an emergency shelter to stay warm.
Know the symptoms of and watch out for cold-related illnesses. Call 9-1-1 to report emergencies.
Be a good neighbor. Check on family, friends, and neighbors, especially the elderly, those who live alone, those with medical conditions, and those who may need extra help.
Extreme cold can cause cold-related illness, including: